Facebook is restricting the user data it allows outsiders to access as part of steps it’s taking to address the fallout from its worst privacy crisis in years.
The company is reeling from news that a Trump-affiliated data-mining firm used ill-gotten data from millions of users to try to influence elections. Facebook says as many as 87 million people may have had their data accessed — an increase from the 50 million disclosed in published reports.
Among the latest changes: Facebook is restricting access that apps can get about users’ events, as well as information about groups such as member lists and content.
In addition, the company is also removing the option to search for users by entering a phone number or an email address. While this helped individuals find friends who may have a common name, Facebook says businesses that had phone or email information on customers were able to collect profile information this way.
Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm affiliated with President Donald Trump’s campaign, has been accused of using ill-gotten data from Facebook users to try to influence elections.
This coming Monday, all Facebook users will receive a notice on their Facebook feeds with a link to see what apps they use and what information they have shared with those apps. They’ll have a chance to delete apps they no longer want.
Users who had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica will be told of that within that notice. Facebook says most of the affected users are in the U.S.
The company unveiled the revisions Wednesday as it faces one of its worst privacy scandals in history. Although Facebook says the changes aren’t prompted by recent events, it’s an opportune time. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is also set to testify before Congress next week for the first time.
Among Wednesday’s changes: Facebook has added a section explaining that it collects people’s contact information, which may include call logs and text histories. The previous policy did not mention call logs or text histories. Several users were surprised to learn recently that Facebook had been collecting such data.